When the Darkness Lurking Beneath Comes Into the Light
Sean C. Lucan
Targeted Subway Ads Push Unhealthy Foods on the Vulnerable
Trying to eat healthy? Many of us are. Unfortunately, our attempts are often challenged by pervasive less-healthful fare. Diet-challenging foods and beverages are all around us, often in unexpected places. And ads pushing us to consume less-healthful items are everywhere.
It’s no secret that ads for less-healthful foods and beverages are ubiquitous on TV (commercials interrupt programs, companies place products on shows, event sponsors inconspicuously brand and message). And now that viewer attention is turning to other screens, food and beverage companies are becoming more creative with various “digital marketing.”
Yet even when we can pull our eyes away from our glowing devices, we are not safe from ads promoting less-healthful foods and beverages. As we go about our daily lives we encounter additional ads in the form of billboards, posters, banners, and other print.
How much print advertising we encounter depends in no small part on where we live and who we advertisers think we are. Advertisers target their marketing to specific groups. For food and beverage companies, those groups include vulnerable adults and children.
The targeting of vulnerable adults and children through screen ads (e.g., television, computer, and portable devices) is well-established. Research also suggests that such targeting is seen with outdoor ads, in the spaces where people go about their daily lives.